What can attendees expect at Moogfest?
Moogfest is a concentrated experience in exploring how technology enhances the way we create art, music and how we design our future communities. We bring together creative technologists like musicians, coders, scientists, filmmakers and inventors to present their unique perspectives through workshops, keynotes, conversations and performances. We try to build an experience that exposes both participants and attendees to new ideas, and empowers them to take those ideas back to their communities to create something new.
Why do you feel it is important to create a protest stage this year?
Moogfest is a conversation about the future of music and technology, and we can’t explore the future without discussing the problems we face today. Art and music have always been among the most potent forms of expression, allowing humans to express the deepest truths and most profound connections. Modern technology has immense power to connect people, to redefine how we express ourselves and reshape the world we live in. By incorporating the concept of protest into the celebration of arts, technology, and future thought, we can go beyond the basic format of a music festival and encourage participants to envision and ultimately help design future communities that work better for everyone.
The Protest Stage program will be led by local and international artists Talib Kweli, Omar Souleyman, Mykki Blanco, BEARCAT and Pie Face Girls, MIT Open Doc Lab, NEW INC, and app developers at Goldsmiths University of London. It will include performances, talks, and participatory technology experiments.
How does Moogfest see the role of protest playing into the future of art, music, and technology?
Our struggles as human beings have always given rise to new uses of technology, as well as to new art and music that meaningfully addresses the human rights issues we face. Protest is about giving voice to the unheard, it’s not just about signaling the misuse of power, but it’s also about discovering and amplifying the voices of those that are suggesting solutions and inventive alternatives to the status quo. The most innovative ideas are not necessarily expressed in politics, but as DIY participatory acts of creative expression and resistance that are largely powered by technology. Protest, in the sense of a positive instrument for change, is one of the most vital functions that music, art, and technology can serve.
How is this year’s festival different from last year’s Moogfest?
Moogfest is a reflection of our times, so this year’s program explores how technology can enhance sociopolitical action. As announced in February, we will have a dedicated Protest Stage at this year’s festival in response to discriminatory policies in our home state of North Carolina and around the world.
This year, for the first time, we will debut a never-before-seen multimedia installation created by world-renowned artist Michael Stipe. The installation will inject downtown Durham with a unique public art experience by a cultural figure. This is the type of artwork you would expect to have debuted in New York or LA, but it’s free and accessible to all in Durham first. Moogfest hopes to continue to create these memorable experiences for Durham locals and its visitors.
Moogfest is a unique blend of music festival and technology conference. What could a casual music fan learn about the intersection between music and technology?
As synthesizer designers, we are abundantly aware of how technology enhances the way human beings creatively express themselves. The invention of the first portable electronic keyboard, called the Minimoog Model D, was the catalyst for the bass lines in the seminal 1970s funk band Parliament Funkadelic; those same bass lines and that same keyboard were what Dr. Dre used 20 years later to create the sound of West Coast hip-hop. That very same keyboard also inspired the industrial music pioneered by Gary Numan in the late 70s, which directly influenced a young Trent Reznor and his band Nine Inch Nails ten years later.
All human activity is interconnected, all of it shapes and is shaped by the decisions we make and what we choose to create. Through a program featuring cutting edge music and technology presentations, Moogfest participants realize that these things don’t exist in a vacuum or purely for entertainment. Hopefully participants will be inspired to find and engage with these powerful connections in their own lives.